Tips for layering a show-stopping trifle


Learn how to layer a trifle with these easy tips & tricks! Build your own or follow one of these tempting trifle recipes for a show-stopping creation.

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How to layer a trifle

A trifle is the ultimate dessert solution if you’ve been invited to a last-minute soiree. Or, if you’re looking for a fuss-free Christmas dessert, a trifle is the perfect match. To build a show-stopping trifle is effortless with this guide to trifle and trifle recipes.

What is in a trifle?

Traditionally, the layers of a trifle include cake pieces, custard, fruit pieces, jelly and cream. It requires little cooking, can be made ahead of time, and you can mix and match ingredients according to your tastes.

Let's take a better look at all the components make up a trifle!

The vessel

Choose a large, deep bowl that will allow you to fit all the layers of the trifle. You can purchase trifle bowls especially for showing off your layered dessert, many even come on stands .

What can I use if I don't have a trifle bowl?

A large glass bowl is preferable so you can see each delicious layer. Other containers that could work are a punch bowl, a mixing bowl, a clear ice bucket, or make mini individual trifles in glasses. 

The foundations 

When adding your base layer, place it with care as it will be the first thing visible in the bowl. Ensure slices of cake are cut thickly enough so it won't turn to mush when topped with more layers. Lady fingers or sponge traditionally work well, but you could try brownies, spiced cake, gingerbread or even jelly. Traditionally, the cake layers are soaked with sherry or fortified wine.

If you're using jelly, remember to prepare it earlier as you need the base to be set and ready before adding the custard layer.


After the base, it’s time for a layer of creaminess. Homemade custard is always a winner, but store bought works in a pinch. If you want something lighter, whipped cream would work as well. This layer is crucial as it breaks up the heaviness in the trifle.

For extra flavour, try adding a caramel sauce, fruit curd or lemon butter to your custard layer.


Use a mix of your favourite fruits - if using firm or crisp fruits, cut it into smaller pieces so it can be eaten with a spoon. We suggest using in-season fruits for more intense flavour. In the Aussie summer, we're spoilt for choice with mangoes, nectarines, peaches and berries that are vibrant and full of flavour. Place the fruit right up against the glass for a striking and colourful result.


After adding the fruit, it’s time to repeat! Keep layering until the trifle dish is full or you run out of ingredients.

How to top a trifle

Once your dish is filled to the brim, it’s time to top it! Whipped cream is a favourite, or try meringue as a fancier topping. Trifles are so versatile so there is no wrong choice. If you like, scatter more berries, glace fruits or chocolate shavings on top.

Trifle recipes

Want a fool proof recipe that you can follow along? Find plenty of trifle recipes and videos below, from classic trifle recipes to modern twists with flavours like gingerbread and chocolate.

Traditional Trifle Recipe

Learn how to make homemade custard and use it to layer a simple yet stunning berry-filled trifle.

Get the recipe: Easy Custard Berry Trifle

Epic Raspberry Trifle with Meringue Top

Watch how to layer this epic trifle. In the recipe learn to make the sponge and meringue topping from scratch.

Get the recipe: Epic Raspberry Trifle with Meringue Top

Gingerbread and Caramel trifle

Give your trifle a more festive twist with this deliciously spiced gingerbread version. Watch the video to see how easy this version is to layer.

Get the recipe: Gingerbread and Caramel Trifle

Want more great dessert recipes? Check out this collection of easy make-ahead desserts for entertaining, or this collection of Christmas dessert ideas.

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